Musser, Laura Jane, 1916-1989.
Laura Jane Musser was born in Minneapolis, June 4, 1916, to Richard Drew and Sarah Walker Musser of Little Falls, Minnesota. She was educated at home until her seventh year, then attended a private school, and later graduated from Central High School, Little Falls in 1933. She attended Hartridge School in Plainfield, New Jersey, and Monticello College, Godfrey in Illinois (1934-1937). Musically talented, she lived, off and on, in New York City from 1937 until the death of her mother in 1953. She attended the Julliard School of Music, and took private lessons from prominent pianists. While in New York City she lived for a while at International House, where she met many foreign students and became interested in racial tolerance and equality.
Laura Jane had a wide variety of friends, among them the singer Marian Anderson and her nephew James DePreist Anderson, the young African American pianist Philippa Duke Schuyler and her parents, Hilda McCoy of the historically black Rust College (Holly Spring, Arkansas), actress Margaret Hamilton, and pianist Van Cliburn.
Returning to Little Falls permanently, she became involved in all aspects of the city's life. She taught piano, served on the school board (1975-1976), worked on historic preservation projects, and was a member of many civic organizations. She also participated in the work of the Minnesota Historical Society, Minneapolis/ Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Arts Board, and similar groups. She died in Little Falls on November 12, 1989.
The son of Peter and Tamson (Rhodes) Musser of Muscatine, Iowa, Richard Drew Musser was born in Chinese Camp, Stockton, California, November 14, 1865. At the time Peter was engaged in a number of mining ventures in the area. He returned to Muscatine in the 1870s, where he organized the Musser Lumber Company. Richard D. was educated in the Muscatine public schools, and graduated from the University of Iowa in 1888 with a degree in civil engineering. While at the University he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and of Company "C" of the University National Guard. Following graduation he worked as a tanner and in mines in the South, and finally entered the lumber business in the early 1890s. He worked first in the Musser Lumber Company's office in St. Paul, Minnesota and then moved to Little Falls, Minnesota where, with Charles A. Weyerhaeuser, he formed the Pine Tree Lumber Company. He held many offices in the company until his death, and was also associated with the Immigration Land Company, the Crow Wing Land Company, the Morrison County Lumber Company, and a number of other lumber and paper manufacturing firms.
Musser was also active in many other organizations in Little Falls: hospitals, the Little Falls Country Club, the Masons, the First Congregational Church, and other civic organizations. He was also a trustee of Carleton College for many years.
The daughter of Thaddeus and Margaret (Otis) Walker, Sarah Walker Musser was born in Glens Falls, New York in 1879, and married Richard Musser in Cloquet, Minnesota, June 3, 1903. From 1897 to 1899 she lived in Berlin, Germany, where she studied German language and literature. In 1902 she came to visit her sister, Jane Walker Taylor, whose husband Huntington was a foreman in the Cloquet (Minn.) Lumber Company. At this time she met Richard Musser. After their marriage the couple moved to Little Falls, Minnesota.
Sarah Musser was active in Little Falls community life. She helped organize the Civic League, and was active in the Musical Arts Club, the Child Interest Club, and the First Congregational Church. She also served on the Minnesota State Board of Education in the 1920s and 1930s.
Sarah and Richard's first child, Peter, died at birth in 1910. They adopted a daughter, Mary, in 1915, and in 1916 Laura Jane was born. At some time before 1915, the Mussers became legal guardians of Alice Deppman, who lived with the family until her marriage to Edward Clark Davidson in 1921. Although she took the Musser name, it is not clear whether she was formally adopted by the Mussers.
From the guide to the Laura Jane Musser and family papers., 1842-1989 (bulk 1880-1989)., (Minnesota Historical Society)
|creatorOf||Musser, Laura Jane, 1916-1989. Laura Jane Musser and family papers, 1842-1989.||Minnesota Historical Society Library|
|creatorOf||Laura Jane Musser and family papers., 1842-1989 (bulk 1880-1989).||Minnesota Historical Society.|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Little Falls (Minn.).|
|Oz (Imaginary place)|
|African American musicians|
|Children, Adopted--Minnesota--Little Falls|
|Home economics--Minnesota--Little Falls--Accounting|
|African American teachers|
|African American universities and colleges|